Photo of Gary S. Guzy

Gary S. Guzy

Gary Guzy brings thirty five years of experience in environmental law, regulation, and public policy. He provides counsel to industry leaders in the transportation, energy, technology, and consumer sectors on emerging environmental and clean energy issues. He is skilled at creating strategic partnerships that bring together diverse groups to resolve challenging public policy controversies through close work with industry and environmental community leaders. Mr. Guzy co-chairs the firm’s Energy Industry Group.

Mr. Guzy served as Deputy Director and General Counsel of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In this position, he helped develop and guide the Obama Administration’s environmental, public health, and clean energy agenda, bringing business insights to government policy and coordinating policy across government agencies. He spearheaded negotiations that achieved the Obama Administration’s agreement to double motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions with the support of automobile manufacturers, states, labor unions, environmental and consumer groups, and Congress. Mr. Guzy also led CEQ’s efforts to modernize permitting and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, and counseled federal agencies on how to fulfill their NEPA obligations for dozens of high profile decisions and assisted in resolving NEPA controversies at numerous complicated sites.

Mr. Guzy served as General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Counselor to the EPA Administrator during the Clinton Administration. He was a member of the Administrator’s senior policy team, setting regulatory, legislative, and communications strategy. He led efforts to design regulatory approaches to protect children’s environmental health, develop and defend new air quality and motor vehicle standards, defend EPA from Congressional oversight investigations, and protect iconic ecosystems such as the Everglades and Yellowstone National Park. He also authored climate change opinions that were later ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark decision finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants under federal law.

Mr. Guzy has also served as the chief legal officer, sustainability officer, and climate strategist for a variety of business organizations

First observed on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has long been recognized as a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement.  On that day, over 20 million demonstrators nationwide marched to raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve the environment.  The energy generated from that day galvanized the country to action, leading to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 1970 and the passage of several statutes later that decade—including the Clean Air Act (CAA) the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)—that serve as the foundation of U.S. environmental legislation.  Today, Earth Day is recognized by countries around the world, and has expanded from its initial focus on pollution control to include elevating environmental justice in low-income, disadvantaged, and indigenous communities and promoting domestic and international climate action.

Beginning with a proclamation on April 19 declaring climate change to be “the existential crisis of our time,” the Biden-Harris Administration marked Earth Day and the week after by announcing a suite of final rules and grant programs aimed at fossil fuel abatement and pollution control, accelerating electric transmission grid modernization and solar energy development, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.  These actions underscore not only the continued “whole-of-government” approach that the Administration has taken to combat climate change but also the urgency with which federal agencies have moved to promulgate final rules and protect them from potential congressional revocation ahead of the Congressional Review Act deadline later this spring. 

To assist industries and markets as they evaluate the impact of these final rules and programs, we’ve spotlighted several of these Earth Week regulatory and grant-funding actions.Continue Reading A Week of Climate Action: Spotlight on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Earth Week Regulatory and Grant-Funding Actions

What You Need to Know. 

  • “We very much believe and respect the science,” said COP28 President Al Jaber on Monday after it had been reported that he had earlier commented that there was “no science” behind requiring the phase-out of fossil fuels to limit global warming to 1.5C. President Al Jaber went on to say that “the phase down and the phase out of fossil fuel is inevitable.”  This statement comes after heavy criticism from climate activists and scientists of President Al Jaber’s earlier comments, further emphasizing the centrality of the “phase down” vs. “phase out” debate as a wedge issue at this COP.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 5 Recap: Climate Finance Continues to Grow and Carbon Offsets Face More Regulation

What You Need to Know. 

  • After the opening day, action at COP28 shifted to the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), where world leaders convened to deliver national statements and carry out initial negotiations on the Global Stocktake and expanding climate financing.  Concurrently, business leaders and philanthropists gathered at the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum to discuss how the private sector and philanthropy can contribute to climate action.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 2­–­3 Recap: The World Climate Action Summit and Expanding Commitments to Climate Financing

Four federal agencies—the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development—have released a Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, an ambitious plan that outlines the principles the federal government will continue to use to pursue its stated goal of economy-wide net zero emissions by 2050. This “whole of government” mobilization will profoundly affect many investment decisions, collaborations, regulatory actions and policy disputes with material impacts across many business sectors.Continue Reading Biden Administration Releases Comprehensive Transportation Decarbonization Plan

On January 6th, the White House Council of Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released a new Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (“the Guidance”) in permitting decisions, with significant implications for energy and infrastructure projects.  Though this Guidance is effective as of the date of publication, it was issued on an interim basis and CEQ will consider comments until March 10th, after which it could be revised further. 

CEQ’s recommendations will influence the Biden Administration’s analysis of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), applying immediately to all newly proposed actions as well as some on-going NEPA reviews.  While the Guidance is largely framed as a series of recommendations rather than requirements, it highlights best practices for environmental reviews that could help expedite project completions, improve agency decision making, and minimize litigation risks for developers.  Ultimately, CEQ is trying to ensure that agencies and project developers pay sufficient attention to climate impacts, without causing unwarranted delays to agency decision-making, particularly considering that accelerating clean energy infrastructure is a key component of the Biden Admiration’s climate agenda. 

The Guidance seeks to foster a greater understanding of GHG impacts and the tradeoffs among alternatives, thus raising expectations around the quality of federal GHG analyses.  Project developers will want to work closely with federal regulators to ensure the sufficiency of agency NEPA reviews. Failures to do so may provide project opponents a pathway to litigation. Continue Reading White House issues guidance on greenhouse gas analysis in permitting decisions

The United Nations annual climate change conference—officially known as the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”), or COP27 for short—held in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, finally concluded early Sunday morning. COP27 was held amidst the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and its consequent economic turmoil, as well as increasingly tumultuous global weather events over the past year. Against this challenging backdrop, COP27 was never going to be straightforward. But difficulties were compounded by divisions between the developing and developed worlds over the priorities that should form the focus of the Summit, most clearly manifested in tensions over the issue of “loss and damage.” Although COP27 will be viewed as historic for its creation of a fund to compensate countries most impacted by climate change, there were also lost opportunities to adopt more ambitious and accelerated climate mitigation commitments that will be needed given the dire scientific warnings about the rapid impact of climate change on the planet.
Continue Reading COP27: A Flawed Though Still Consequential Climate Summit

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) would make significant strides in limiting and cutting methane pollution. Methane has proven to be a significant part of the climate problem; the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) notes that over a 20-year period, methane is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide.  Studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) further show that the rate of methane emissions is only worsening, with 2020 recording the largest annual increase since 1983.  By implementing a Methane Emissions Reduction Program, the IRA takes a significant step towards reducing methane-related warming.  This program implements a carrot-and-stick regulatory regime, whereby the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rewards methane reduction efforts with financial assistance, and penalizes excess methane waste with a set fee.Continue Reading Methane Emissions Reduction Program: The Next Step in the United States’ Efforts to Tackle a Potent Greenhouse Gas

Late on July 27, Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): a reconciliation package that implements prescription drug pricing reform, invests in Affordable Care Act health care subsidies, imposes a corporate minimum tax and improves tax enforcement, and—most relevant for this post—provides $369 billion to support energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Continue Reading Overview of the Inflation Reduction Act

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (“COP”) in Glasgow has drawn to a close, with seemingly mixed messages and a somewhat ambiguous conclusion, it is worth reflecting on the overall trajectory of the climate issue, societal expectations, and the accomplishments that — with time — Glasgow is likely to represent.  COP26 highlighted the fragility of the planet, as well as the fragility of the global consensus-based United Nations approach to protecting it.  It highlighted the sweep of global climate-induced challenges and the scale of transformation needed to address them.  With rising temperatures has come a rising global focus on climate and a far greater set of emerging societal expectations for meaningful responses by government and the private sector.  Despite the risk that the global agreement forged in Glasgow is seen by climate activists as all talk and no action — what they referred to as “blah, blah, blah” — I believe that a number of features will endure as important accomplishments.
Continue Reading Report from Glasgow COP26: Assessing the United Nations Climate Conference

On July 17, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a Final Rule updating regulations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final Rule closely tracks the Proposed Rule released in January 2020. The final rule makes a number of notable changes to existing NEPA regulations.
Continue Reading CEQ Finalizes NEPA Rule Updating Regulations